• amanda0195

Imperialism 19th Century



  • 1815 -- West controlled 35% of the world

  • 1915 -- West controlled 85% of the world

  • Early Imperialism

  • 1400s

  • Portuguese explorers

  • Spanish Conquistadors

  • 1800s

  • Latin American countries became independent

  • U.S. expands from Atlantic to Pacific Ocean after Mexican-American War


  • Balance of power is achieved in Europe which kept the peace

  • Concert of Europe = conservatives work to maintain balance

  • To ensure than no nation creates another Napoleon


  • Crimean War (1853-1856)

  • Russia v. France, Britain and the Ottoman Empire

  • Wars of Italian Unification

  • Italy is unified in 1860

  • Franco-Prussian War (1870-71)

  • France suffers humiliating defeat (compensated through imperialism)

  • Germany is unified under Emperor Wilhelm and his PM Bismarck



ECONOMIC -- Industrial Revolution

  • Desire to find raw materials

  • Like rubber for tires, palm oil lubricant, etc.

  • Markets

  • Desire to find new customers to buy manufactured goods and keep people employed.

  • Investment opportunities

  • Need for bases and coal stations around world

  • For navies and civilian fleets

  • Steam and petroleum-driven ships needed repair and fueling facilities

  • Western nations seized islands and ports around the world

  • Truth was the cost of maintaining colonies was higher than profits.

  • Examples: Railroads more expensive than goods yielded.

  • Mines didn't yield enough minerals to cover costs


  • Social Darwinism

  • Theory by Herbert Spencer

  • That some people are more biologically evolved than others.

  • Used as justification for imperialism, racism, political conservatism

  • White Man's Burden (1899)

  • Poem by Rudyard Kipling about Philippine-American War

  • Promoted belief that the technologically advanced Western world

  • Had an obligation to "civilize" the less-developed world


  • Families and individuals wanted to make fortunes abroad

  • Overpopulation made jobs scarcer - colonies provided opportunities for work

  • Lowest white colonizers were enjoyed higher status in foreign countries.


  • Because of Concert of Europe

  • European nations can't expand borders in Europe

  • Nations looked for foreign lands to colonize

  • Nationalism

  • European nations expressing nationalistic pride after Napoleon is defeated

  • France

  • Colonizes to make up for humiliation of Franco-Prussian War

  • Russian Empire

  • Imposed Russian language on all subjects.

  • Eager to expand territory to reach warm-water ports

  • Italy and Belgium

  • Not powerful in Europe, made up for it with colonies

  • Colonies because measure of status and prestige.

  • Competition among European countries to establish more colonies

  • ​Especially as the century closes and the amount of desirable unconquered land diminishes.

  • Desire to establish buffer colonies between primary colonies​




  • West wealthy enough with industrialization to pay for

  • Military

  • Transportation

  • Communication


  • Steamships

  • Allowed Europeans to travel by sea

  • And sail up previously un-navigable rivers.

  • Later used petroleum as fuel

  • Canals

  • Suez Canal (opened 1956)

  • Panama Canal (opened 1915)

  • Cut 1000s of miles off journeys.

  • Railroads


  • Telegram (1880) allowed Europeans to communicate long-distances

  • In 1800 mail took 1 year to get from London to India

  • 1880 telegram took 1 hour


  • Industrialization brought new weaponry

  • Machine gun (Maxim), Long-range artillery etc.

  • Natives could match technology

  • Battle of Omdurman in Sudan 1898

  • 11,000 Muslim tribesmen died, 28 British soldiers.


  • First discovered in 1820

  • Medication taken from bark of a cinchona tree

  • Helped treat malaria, allowing Europeans to travel deep into Africa

  • First used by French in 1830

  • to protect soldiers from deadly malaria long enough to take Algeria.



Br. writer Joseph Conrad wrote Heart of Darkness 1902

Revealing brutality that came with conquest



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